10 of the Safest Cars for Teens That Cost Less Than $8,000

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

Image Not Available

Car crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the U.S., according to federal statistics.

The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety encourages parents to spend “a little more” on cars for teens when possible to get key safety features.

Fortunately, that can be accomplished for well under $10,000, judging by the organization’s latest teen vehicle safety ratings. The list of safe vehicles has grown by more than 50 percent over the past year.

Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at the IIHS, explains:

“Time is on the consumer’s side. It’s easier than ever to find a used vehicle with must-have safety features and decent crash test performance without spending a fortune.”

With a few dozen vehicles now on the IIHS “best list,” 10 options cost less than $8,000. They are:

Large cars

  • Volvo S80 — 2007 and newer

Midsize cars

  • Volkswagen Jetta sedan and wagon — 2009 and newer
  • Volvo C30 — 2008 and newer
  • Volkswagen Passat sedan — 2009 and newer
  • Ford Fusion — 2010 and newer; built after April 2010
  • Mercury Milan — 2010-2011; built after April 2010

Small SUVs

  • Honda Element — 2007-2011
  • Volkswagen Tiguan — 2009 and newer

Midsize SUVs

  • Volvo XC90 — 2005 and newer
  • Subaru Tribeca/B9 Tribeca — 2006 and newer

The safety features that the IIHS says parents should require are:

  • Lower horsepower: This helps reduce the temptation to push a powerful engine to its limits.
  • Bigger, heavier vehicles: Such models, which include small SUVs, are safer.
  • Electronic stability: This technology is a mandatory feature, but that has only been the case since the 2012 model year. It helps a driver maintain control of a vehicle on slippery roads and is “a proven lifesaver,” according to the IIHS.

What kind of vehicle would you recommend to a teen today? Share your thoughts in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.